found on George Takei’s Facebook page.
There are creative liberties, and there are Creative Liberties.
Basically, there is a right and wrong way to do things. Take a look at that version of the Star Spangled Banner up above. It is a mock up of how many pop singers and other fancy folks perform it at sporting events and the like. On my Facebook page, I’ve heard it described as the “Mariah Carey” version. Let me ask you another question. Can you even tell that it’s the National Anthem?
If you answered ‘no,’ you are not alone, and that’s the problem.
When your creative liberties extend to the point the song becomes unrecognizable, you have done a poor, poor job of performance — ESPECIALLY if it is your job to present a widely known piece of music.
There’s also the issue of what type of music you’re performing. More care needs to be taken with important songs like National Anthems than with, say, a cover version of a pop song. Put plainly, it is pretty tactless to sing a National Anthem in a manner that makes it unrecognizable. It’s like putting a huge sign on your chest saying you don’t care about the country (at the least) or that you’re telling anyone who has patriotic leanings to go screw themselves (at worst). It makes you look bad as a performer.
That said, there are right ways to make a song your own:
1. Use embellishments to showcase your talent, but use them with caution and care. They are like frosting on a cookie: to be really good, there needs to be more cookie than frosting. Too much frosting, and the cookie becomes inedible.
2. Pay attention to what you are doing and how others are responding. Audiences tend to be pretty transparent in how they respond to a performance; if they look uncomfortable or confused (or angry or…), that’s because they ARE. Which means the ball is in your court — do something different!
The important thing is just to remember there is a time and a place for everything. 🙂